The Millionaire’s Tax Debate Is Coming Back in 2019
Could it really happen this time?
If siphoning a big chunk of the wealth from Massachusetts’ ultra-rich to pay for public programs is your thing, then rejoice: The so-called millionaire’s tax is on its way back in 2019.
Debate over the proposal, which would add a 4 percent surtax to annual income over $1 million, is set to get a reboot in the new year. At least that’s what the leaders of Raise Up Massachusetts are telling the Boston Business Journal. In an interview, the co-founders of the progressive group, Lew Finfer and Harris Gruman, tell the BBJ they’re chewing on new approaches to changing the tax code.
Raise Up has estimated a millionaire’s tax could raise some $2 billion from the state’s 16,000 or so millionaires. But getting there is no easy task. In order to make the change, they will need to get an amendment to the state constitution, which will ultimately require direct approval from voters.
More than three-quarters of voters backed the idea in a poll earlier this year, but, of course, millionaire’s don’t like it. Critics and business groups have warned it would make the state less competitive and send job creators fleeing to New Hampshire or some other place where the government is less eager to come for their paychecks.
The re-emergence of the issue comes on the heels of a failed effort last year to get a millionaire’s tax accomplished via ballot question. That blew up when the state’s Supreme Judicial Court ruled the ballot measure was unconstitutional because it required that the money raised by the new tax be used exclusively for education and transportation. So this time, the group is considering legislation that wouldn’t include such a requirement.
There were other successes in 2018 for Raise Up, though. It helped push a “grand bargain” through the state house that included a rise in the state’s minimum wage for thousands of workers from $11 to $15, along with new family and medical leave requirements.